News Stories

Moral and Religious Rights in the Workplace

Recently in Arizona, a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a woman who needed to treat an unavoidable miscarriage. A similar incident happened in the same state in a different pharmacy, where the pharmacist declined to refill a transgender woman’s prescription.

This seems to be happening way too frequently – and what’s even more interesting, it’s happening in the same state. Perhaps, that is due to a state law that allows pharmacists to excise their religious beliefs when dispensing a prescription.

Does Florida have such laws?

“To say I won’t fill a prescription on a religious or moral basis I would never do that,” said Vanessa Waich, a local pharmacist, who has 10 years of experience in the industry.

“I would only not fill based on a medical issue or a legitimacy issue,” she explained.

Southwest Florida attorney, Steven Martin said he’s not aware of any law on point that says that a pharmacist can or cannot dispense something based on a moral belief.

“But let’s say there is no law on that, the pharmacists as a professional, is able to exercise their own judgement on which should be dispensed, I think that would be within that pharmacist’s rights.”

F.S. 381.0051 Family Planning

Refusal for Religious or Medical Reasons

The provisions of this section will not be interpreted to stop a doctor or other person from refusing to furnish any contraceptive or family planning service, supplies, or information for medical or religious reasons; and the doctor or other person, in this scenario – a pharmacist will not be held liable for refusing.

However, Martin said there could be consequences if a pharmacist declines to fill a prescription in the state of Florida.

“The pharmacist’s employer, the pharmacy, can also go fire that person for not following corporate policy,” he explained.

“I believe every employee or person that works in the states, should be entitled to their own beliefs, and I think we should give those beliefs respect too.”

Additional reporting by Val Simpson